Breeze Durham

Kei waenganui o ngā Atua Wāhine - Kurawaka

Bachelor of Design Identity Photography Print Design Publication Web Activism Collaborative Design history Storytelling Te Ao Maori
Kurawaka Insitu (2021) Photo: Breeze Durham
AD21 Award
Jasmax Award
For emerging brand designers exploring visual culture within the built environment


Kurawaka is a publication that questions the whakapapa of storing knowledge through book design. Within the colonial limitations of a publication as a medium it explores ways in which we are able to question books in their form and in the experience they provide to an audience. Kurawaka explores how a historically western medium can be better designed, repurposed to more appropriately tell stories of Mana Wāhine. It questions its dimensions, functionality and colonial rules which have historically guided the experiences of engaging with this medium.

This publication in its essence does not have a beginning or an ending. The wiro bind was chosen to symbolise the centrepoint or world in which the kaupapa is connected by, allowing the reader to enter into the journey of the book at whichever point they feel right for them. This work is grounded by its nature as a collaborative piece. Which is guided by the celebration of the unique whakapapa of all involved. In this sense the reader is prompted throughout the publication to engage in wayfinding and problem solving strategies. To represent the necessary work that needs to be done by the reader in order to gain access to the taonga — gifts that are found throughout the book and the importance of putting things back as they were found, in order to continue the journey. Kurawaka aims to encourage us to acknowledge the agency we have over our experiences in this lifetime. Beginning in the small act of reading a book.

Kei Waenganui o ngā Atua Wāhine is a kaupapa Māori research project highlighting the importance of Wāhine Māori creative practitioners experiences as Toi Wāhine, Mana Wāhine and modern day storytellers of Te Ao Māori, specifically in art and design. Kei Waenganui o ngā Atua Wāhine aims to create space for cross-disciplinary conversation to better understand the intersectionality of past, present and future Wāhine Māori world views. Through centring, affirming and honouring the stories of Toi Wāhine, Atua Wāhine, Mana Wāhine we are able to listen and uncover intergenerational mātauranga and boundless possibilities of the forms it may take. This kaupapa is centred around an audio archive of a select group of nine Wāhine Māori creative practitioners who have have gifted their kōrero to provide insight into their processes, the way they connect with themselves, their whānau, their communities.

Elisapeta Hinemoa Heta, Qiane Matata-Sipu, Te Ara Minhinnick, Nikau Hindin, Hana Pera Aoake, Zoe Black, Heidi Brickell and Cassie Hart all share advice they wish they had been given as emerging Wāhine Māori creatives and offer their hopes for the future generations.

Kurawaka is a publication designed to support the larger kaupapa of Kei waenganui o ngā Atua Wāhine. The publication collates excerpts from the audio archive, writings of Atua Wāhine and images and design of other Wāhine Māori practitioners. Within the limitations presented by colonial rules of book design, Kurawaka questions the whakapapa of storing knowledge, the dimensions, functionality, forms books take and the constraints on experience presented to engage an audience. Kurawaka explores how an historically western medium can be better designed, repurposed to more appropriately tell stories of this select group of Wāhine.

Kei waenganui o ngā Atua Wāhine is a kaupapa that will continuously evolve. The accompanying link to the online platform holds the most up to date stage of the journey, the mediums in which the kaupapa exists and will capture the archive as it grows. I would like to acknowledge the interrelationship between this mahi and my own personal journey with my whakapapa, my Wāhinetanga, my Māoritanga. In this way it is important for me to acknowledge the agency I have taken in engaging with this kaupapa but also the limitations it may be faced with due to where I am in my own journey.

Kei Waenganui o ngā Atua Wāhine is a living conversation activated through audio, poetry, short stories, image & design. Not bound by dimension or time, but by te whakaaro, te āhua, te mauri o ngā Mana Wāhine. Nō te hā ōrite.

Mauri Ora!